Will The Native American Kid With Long Hair Start School Monday?

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The (possible) start of school for five-year-old Adriel Aroacha is Monday, and the Needville Independent School District will be forced to finally make a decision on what to do about the child's long hair.

Adriel's parents say they'll take the boy to kindergarten, and if he is sent home they'll bring him back the next day, but they're not cutting his hair. Background stories are here and here, but essentially Adriel's long hair is both a symbol of his family's American Indian beliefs and a violation of the Needville dress code.

The school board has met once to talk about the case, but it decided to make no decision on Adriel's hair until his parents enrolled him in school. Needville parents and other residents that showed up for the July meeting made it clear they did not want to bend the district's dress code rules.

Adriel's father Kenney says his son is enrolled, but the family has not been told what to expect on Monday.

"We're just waiting," Kenney says. "Their lawyers and our lawyers are talking, but we haven't heard anything."

The superintendent of Needville schools, Curtis Rhodes, previously told the Houston Press that he did not think Adriel's hair qualified as a religious belief. Now Rhodes is keeping quiet, saying that he doesn't want to talk about a specific student.

"I'm not going to go into any of the details, but we have laws about enrollment, nothing was ever discussed, that was all media publicity that went out that Needville was going to deny enrollment to anyone," Rhodes tells Hair Balls. "But I can't discuss it and I won't."

-- Paul Knight

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